David Cameron is bringing his Cabinet north to Aberdeen today “to highlight the importance to Scotland’s oil industry of staying in the UK.”
Presumably you have to be Scottish to understand why this is such a ludicrously bad idea. Or at least, not an English Conservative who was 25 and working for the Conservative Research Department in London in 1992.
In the 1992 general election, the Conservative Party won 5 seats in Scotland.
It’s been 22 years and that victory remains the highlight of their electoral achievements in the past quarter-century. (Yes, they do have 14 MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, but most of them are “list” MSPs – they represent a region, not a constituency.)
The most effective thing David Cameron could do to win a No vote for independence in Scotland is to stay in England and repeat some variation on “Of course the Scots have a right to hold a referendum on independence: naturally I want Scotland to remain part of the UK but we will respect the democratic will of the Scottish people whatever happens.”
I actually respected Cameron’s decision not to debate Alex Salmond; I assumed his advisors had let him know it would have done neither Cameron or the Better Together campaign any good in Scotland, however well the English Tory Prime Minister comes across in his own electoral territory.
The notion that a Conservative Prime Minister visiting Aberdeen to tell the Scottish people that we’d never be able to cope with our own oil industry if we were independent so we’d much better stay part of the UK…
Well, not only does it invalidate all of Cameron’s arguments for not debating Alex Salmond, it also – my guess, no poll data yet – plays about as well with Scottish voters as all three Westminster parties uniting to tell Scots “you can’t have the pound!”
Undecided voter. Just pointing out that though I’m striving to think things through and decide my vote as I think best, not based on whatever current stupid thing the Yes Scotland or Better Together campaign has done: I am not immune from wanting to vote Yes just to scrub that smug look off David Cameron’s face.
I don’t particularly enjoy feeling like this. The 18th September vote is one of the most significant of my life: from how many people turn out to vote that day to what proportion vote Yes or No, it will colour Scottish politics for decades and may – if enough people vote, if enough people vote Yes – change politics on this island forever. I want to make a solid, sensible decision on how to vote based on the facts available. I want an intelligent constitutional debate.
But what we’re getting, apparently, is David Cameron doing publicity stunts in Scotland because he doesn’t want to lose the oil money.
“Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity” is an excellent maxim, but between George Osborne’s posturings over the pound and David Cameron’s caperings about the oil, it is difficult not to wonder if the Tory party have decided to lose the independence referendum in order to get rid of a few dozen Labour MPs, while trying to look to the Home Counties as if they were making every effort to win.
David, let me put this to you in terms you may understand: your trip to Aberdeen is a victory for Alex Salmond. Enjoy.
It doesn’t happen often, but stopped clock, etc: Alex Massie in the Spectator on Cameron’s argument that Scotland can’t cope with an oil industry.
Also, Daily Mash: North Sea Oil Demands Independence From Scotland.